The Council of Europe has estimated that about six million Roma people lived in EU countries in 2012.Amnesty International has slammed the European Union (EU) for not taking enough measures to end the discrimination and violence against the Roma community. In a report released Sunday on the eve of the International Roma Day (April 8), Amnesty urged the 27-member bloc to impose sanctions on the member states that refuse to halt their illegal practices against the Roma.
"More must be done to ensure that the principles of equality, non-discrimination and respect for human dignity are more than empty words. EU member states must respect international and EU anti-discrimination legislation," said Amnesty International.The report highlights widespread discrimination against the Roma population living in the EU, including segregation in education, forced evictions and a lack of access to safe water. In addition, prejudice towards the largest ethnic minority in Europe “remains strong,” with violent attacks against them. The report also condemned the European Commission’s unwillingness to open court cases in relation to racial discrimination against the Roma community. While the European Commission opens hundreds of so-called 'infringement proceedings' each year against member states that fail to meet legal requirements in areas such as taxation and the environment, there have only been 30 cases in relation to the race equality directive, according to the report. "The EU must implement immediately the considerable measures at its disposal to sanction governments that are failing to tackle discrimination and violence against Roma. Such practices run counter to EU law and the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights it was founded on," said Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia program director John Dalhuisen. The Council of Europe has estimated that about six million Roma people lived in EU countries in 2012. They make up between seven to 10 percent of the population in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain are also home to significant numbers of people from the Roma community. CAH/HJL